Abuja, 24 March, 2020 / 7:50 am (ACI Africa).
As governments in Africa put in place a raft of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Catholic Church leaders in Nigeria and Congo Brazzaville have, in separate statements, allowed the celebration of public Mass amid certain precautionary measures, including a limited number of those in attendance.
“We encourage smaller units of congregational assemblies. The faithful are encouraged to continue with private devotions,” reads part of a statement by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).”
In the March 21 statement signed by CBCN President, Archbishop Agustine Obiora Akubeze, the Prelates have also urged parishes to suspend the sign of peace, drain communal holy water at Church entrances, and offer Holy Communion on the hand instead of the tongue.
The Prelates have also in the two-page statement recommended the closure of all Catholic educational institutions, limited attendance of burial ceremonies to immediate family members, and also suspended weddings until COVID-19 is put under control.
“We appeal to all our Priests to ensure that adequate care is taken to ensure that lines of communication are open to ensure that the poor and the vulnerable who live alone are not abandoned,” the Bishops have collectively urged and added, “Standing together hand in hand will see us through this.”